I was poking around in the garden and found this wooly bear caterpillar under a bunch of leaves. This discovery made me smile for a couple of reasons. First, because wooly bears remind me of my childhood. Second, because it underscores my belief that leaving the leaves helps the creatures and critters.
Have you heard about the #LEAVETHELEAVES campaign? If not, you can read more about it here. I think it’s great that the Xerces Society and other organizations, like The National Wildlife Federation, are educating people about the importance of leaves for overwintering pollinators, reptiles, and other animals. Leaves also make great mulch, can be added to the compost pile, and can be turned into leaf mold with a little time and patience.
How do you feel about leaves? Do you leave them or obsessively rake all the leaves up?
My husband and I are generally either in the “leave them” camp or the “shred them to mulch the vegetable gardens over the winter” camp.
I’m a bit behind with garden cleanup this year. So, I spent most of the weekend cleaning up the koi pond and the vegetable garden. Yesterday was cold and miserable so, of course, that’s when I worked on the koi pond – poor choice on my part!
Today was gray but definitely warmer and I cleaned up the raised beds and the in-ground vegetable beds. I’ve got some tillage radishes growing for cover crops in the in-ground beds. The raised beds are mostly empty except for one that has radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, and some lettuce growing in it. The empty ones will get covered with a thick layer of leaves in the next couple of weeks.
But It’s Really Not a Wrap
I don’t yet have a hoophouse on the raised beds nor do I have a greenhouse. Those are both goals, if you’re wondering. However, I do have a small hydroponics setup in our basement and I’ll starting growing lettuce, bok choy, and spinach in early December. I’ve also got some cool-seasons vegetables – like beets, kale, radishes, and turnips – growing outside and I’m hopeful for a harvest or two before winter really hits. Time will tell!